How to make a friend in Uganda. business consultant, NGO worker, former Peace Corps volunteer, activist: searching for sustainable solutions to eradicate extreme poverty

October 31, 2010

supervisor saga

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 8:35 am

The mystery of my absentee supervisor seems to be solved. Three weeks ago – during my site visit – I had been led to believe that my supervisor was just not in the office that week. No further explanation was given until 12 hours before I moved to site. At that time I was told that my supervisor had left his position just prior to my site visit. That was quite a shock but I’m discovering that it is not the full story. Last night a discussion with a disgruntled association member took place in my living room. It turns out that after a bank audit, money was found missing and my supposed supervisor is under suspicion of fraud. The board will be interviewing for a new bank manager on Friday.

October 26, 2010

my new house

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 2:24 pm

I am so happy to finally be at my site and to be able to tell you all about it. Yes, training way a bitch but I am finally through all of that — by the skin of my teeth — and am living it up in here omuri southwestern Uganda. Scroll down to the end of this post and you will find a picture of my new house. That’s right! For the first time in his life this sub/urbanite has his own home with its very own four walls. It is the perfect size, on the left I am converting one of the bedrooms into a kitchen, the middle room is (very) public and then the suite to the right is a bedroom and bathing area. The family who owns the property and lives in a compound not fifty feet away is very friendly. Only one member is fluent in English that I can tell but that is a pretty amazing godsend as there seem to be only a handful of fluent speakers in the entire village. I am required to increase my local language proficiency before the next test in three months. But it is not for that reason that I am eager to hire a tutor. I just want to understand what people are speaking to me, and, well, to be understood myself. My accent seems to be particularly difficult for Ugandans to pick up.

So I guess I should tell you about the two times I’ve been to church. A few weeks ago I went with Chelsea to a service in Wakiso. I guess it is what might be called a “born again” experience. When we entered the congregation had gathered and were praying. It wasn’t at all contemplative. From what I could pick they were angry about something. Better I didn’t understand what they were uttering I thought. Then the praise and worship started. Most of the words were in Luganda but that didn’t stop Chelsea and I from participating. Perhaps I should stop and tell you about the people on the platform. First, there was the solo musician: a keyboard player who kept a strong midi beat pumping through the speakers. Next there were three backing vocalists. They sang. And a lead vocalist kept everyone engaged. But that’s not what kept me smiling through the service. In the back were three dancers. At times, when not distracted by the rows of orphans to the right, I found myself joining their chorus line right there on the floor next to Chelsea. Good times. The sermon wasn’t all that memorable except for the fact that the pastor and translator would alternate between English and Luganda at whim. Odd. I cross-referenced scripture until I found myself reading Leviticus. Okay, so this Sunday was a bit more liturgical. They term it Pentecostal here. All Runyankore for 2 hours. Notable was the time for questions and comments during the service and the long auction at the end to sell the donated vegetables. I was regifted greens to prepare for dinner.

I’m getting sleepy so I better stop here. This week is definitely better than last and I can see it getting even better from here. Tomorrow I get to help milk the cows!

my new house

October 16, 2010

VIDEO: Home Stay Thank You

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 2:24 pm

As I wrote elsewhere, today was about acting the fool in front of our host families. I’m pretty sure this day is the only reason Jackson hosts trainees. I won’t bore you with words when you can simply watch the videos.

October 11, 2010

Site Announcements!

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 12:54 pm

This is a bit delayed . . .

2 OCT 2010

Ah what a great day! Yesterday I packed my swimming suit, a couple of books, and an extra change of clothes before heading to the training center. I got about halfway there before realizing I’d forgotten my beer/lunch money. I turned around abruptly and then arrived a few minutes late to find everyone all abuzz with excitement.

Soon the country director arrived and we were ready to start. We piled into the lecture hall and just before the announcements began someone switched on the lion king theme from their iPod in the back of the room. With much fanfare, each trainee stood as her name was called and then proceeded to the front of the room where he received a paper with scant information. Drums and applause drowned out the program managers as they announced the particular organizations and work to be done. We quickly gathered around maps to find where our assignments are to be located. I will be traveling to a village to the west of Mbarara in Sheema District where I will be helping a SACCO to develop the entrepreneurial and financial skills of their members. I think it will be very much the microbusiness consulting gig that I had expected. My home will have both tap water and electricity from the grid yet is located in a village about 16 kilometers from the nearest post office and trading center. I am 40 kilometers from any of my fellow trainees. 🙁

After tea, I left the group and eventually traveled up to the rec center. I swam in the pool, talked to some of the locals, took a nap, and read a few chapters of Dreams from My Father. My fellow trainees began arriving at around 5PM. We played a bit of trivia after checking into the hotel and then danced until we could no longer stand.

That was a good day.

October 10, 2010

picture dump

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 10:28 am

Meeting the Vice President of Uganda at his home:

Uganda VP

Trip to the West (immersion week): Matt, Josh, and Jeff

josh and matt


Rural Electriication:

Community Mapping:

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